Our Coal & Energy Policy
Muhd. Iqbal Hussain Sharif :
So far I believe & understand, this Coal & Energy Policy shall have to be passed with an immediate effect just to save our Country from an unexpected destruction. We know, Oxygen & Water are 02 basic things for life and this Energy Policy is also equally important to our National Economy for our very survival. But due to this or that reason, formulation of this Policy is being delayed to safeguard the interests of some international & local vested quarters. Though it is not desired, but still, in respect of the Coal & Energy Policy, the debate is now rolling mainly on the following points like :
A) Mining Process and Rehabilitation ;
B) Use of Coal Mines’ Land ;
C) Reserve to be kept ;
D) To allow Export or not ;
E) Nature of use of Coal ;
F) Share to be kept by Bangladesh Govt.;
G) Process to give Lease, Tender or Direct Application, etc.
To make it easy and for a positive decision, would you mind to please make some time to discuss the above mentioned points for a while ?
A) Mining Process & Rehabilitation : Out of 02 systems, Open Pit & Underground, though it is preferable to put emphasis on the Soil / Rock conditions, yet I support Open Pit system as the best considering the total Safety of the Mine & People and also the total Quantity of the extracted Coal. The Density of Population problem will certainly arise, which may please be 100% solved by constructing modern Satellite Citiy/es with High-rise Apartment Buildings and proven Employment opportunities & other Civic Facilities for all the affected persons. Regarding Environment issues, the related International Laws must have to be followed without showing any deviation. Question of Economic viability will raise for such construction & rehabilitation jobs, which may please be solved from the sale-proceeds of at least 10 times’ excess quantity of Coal to be extracted from the Open Pit system. If required, Govt. should give required subsidy from her Probable Income from the Coal Mine/s and other Proven Sources, as the affected Peoples are her Citizens and the Govt. is for them.
B) Use of Coal Mine’s Land : Total land of the Mine area be purchased first by the Govt. at an appropriate price and the 100% Sellers and Affected Persons ( no land, but affected due to the proposed mining ) be properly compensated in advance by rehabilitating them with Employment, Housing, Treatment, Education, etc. facilities. The costs involved in this regard, may please be covered from the Mining Company’s Tax in advance as well as the lands’ price. The sellers of land will get 10% to 20-% in cash, and the rest 90% to 80% be given against the facilities as above mentioned, while the landless will also get the same facilities, which the Govt. shall bear from her other sources ( if required ), as it is the basic Constitutional Duties of any Govt. to ensure the above mentioned facilities to her People. We should keep in mind that the Govt. and Country is for the People, No People means No Government & No Country!
C) Reserve, to be kept, 50 or 15 Years : Coal has to be extracted first and the reserve period may please be discussed ( showing mutual respects to each-other ) later on also if not solved before. So far I know, 01 Million MT Coal is good enough to run a 250 MW Power Plant for 01 year and our Jamalgonj Coal Mine can run such a 250 MW Power Plant for 1,053 years with her proven reserve of 1,053 Million MT of Coal. Already we have 05 proven Coal Reserves and hence, no one should be worried for the Reserve Period, 50 or 15 years.
D) To allow Export or not : If we extract by ourselves, then we can decide anything, whatever we want. If we shall have to depend on the Foreign Investors & Companies for their Capital & Expertise, then we must be practical, mere dreaming or emotion shall not help! I firmly believe, as a Policy matter, Bangladesh Govt. must allow Export of Coal, which may be 20% to 30% or something like that of the total extracted Coal and only the Experts in this regard shall decide that percentage of Export. The fact is, Bangladesh does not have the Fund or Expertise and she must invite the Foreign Companies and hence, Export must be allowed if the Foreign Investors want that and if we really want to go for the Mining.
We need to understand the reality that one can easily cut her / his Cow by throat or leg, when that belongs to her / him ( though it does not look decent to cut by leg, but we accept it considering the reality ). But if somebody-else is the owner, either singly or jointly, in that case, the opinion of the other Party must also be duly honored. Otherwise, Govt. could pass a Law by prohibiting the export to show the so-called respect to mere emotion, but the Coal shall remain in the underground for another 1,000 years or so by blocking the Fates of our 150 Millions of People and our National Developments, which would open the Permanent Path of Poverty and Illness.
E) Nature of use of Coal : Considering our Power crisis, the first priority must be given for Power Generation. The excess quantity of Coal may please be used to meet the Industrial & Domestic demands. Except a few Cities, about 70% ( or something like that ) of our People do use Trees & Leaves as their Fire-wood, which is the most important cause of destruction of our Trees & Environment. In addition to Power Generation, if Coal is also used as Fire-wood ( in any form like : Gas, Liquid or Solid ) in the Domestic & Industrial sectors, our Country shall become rich & environment-friendly within only 05 to 07 years’ time.
F) Share to be kept by Bangladesh Govt. : Before, it was only 6%, which is simply a farce and must not be accepted in any case. Earlier ( beginning of 2008 or something like that ), in my views expressed with Energy Bangla ( http://www.energybangla.com/), I recommended it to be at least 20%. Now, considering the Bangladesh Govt.’s limitations, I believe, this share may vary in between 10% to 15%, not less than 10% and not more than 15%. If ASIA ENERGY accepts this through Friendly Negotiations, it’s fine. Otherwise, the concerned Lease Agreement be properly scrutinized to find-out any probable scam. If there be any, proper Legal Measures ( including the rigorous imprisonment of minimum 25 years without showing any so-called VIP Treatments ) be taken against the concerned Government Officials as well as the Company Management, who made the so-called business deal in the darkness and the Lease Agreement be cancelled ( if there is legal scope to do so ).
G) Process of Lease, Tender or Direct Application : Considering the reality, both Tender & Direct Application system, may please be considered to give Lease of any Coal Mine. If Tender, the particular Clause : “The Authority reserves the Right to Accept or Reject any or all Tenders including the lowest bid without assigning any reasons, whatsoever” be deleted, as it is the basis of not only 100%, but 1,000% corruptions. That is why, the concerned persons become rich and rich without any white source of income, as they are the valued Members ( ! ) of the Evaluation Committee and due to their hidden expertise, the Country becomes poorer day by day. So, Tender is not the only way of Transparency, which depends mainly upon the ethical standard of the concerned persons related to evaluation of the Tender. Therefore, both the systems, Tender & Direct Application, be allowed for the lease purpose. Initially, invitation of Tender in this particular lease of Coal Mines, be widely published in at least 10 prominent National Daily Newspapers and in all the local TV Channels and also be published through Bangladesh Embassies & High-Commissions throughout the world. If no suitable proposal is received in the first or second attempts, Govt. could publish Tender for the third time. Still if there is no bidder or the offered Share is beyond the expectations of minimum 10%, in that case, Govt. can give lease to the applicant proposing maximum shares ( which might be 10% or more or even 6% also based upon the reality ) on the basis of direct application system. In any case, the mining must has to be started without further delay at the costs of our 150 Millions of People.
Already long 37 years have passed from our Lives & Independence, but our Coal, the Black Diamond, is still in the underground and the burden of unwanted debates ( whether to export or not ; Open-Pit or Underground Mining system ; Question of Rehabilitation and Re-use of Land of the Mining area, etc.) have been continuing! It is something like the Million times’ heard story. The Old man died after keeping an Iron Safe under Lock & Key with full of Gold. Though POOR, but the children did not open it as they could not decide the shares amongst themselves and remained POOR for their lives and when came to the sense before their deaths, the safe was destroyed by then and the Gold was stolen! Once there was a rumor that Bangladesh has been floating on Natural Gas, but the fact is, at present, Bangladesh Govt. is not even in a position to give Gas connections to her Domestic customers ( no question of Industrial Connections ) and negotiating with the Neighboring Countries to import Gas to meet the emergencies and that is no more secret now.
If this trend continues for another 05 years or so, could you imagine the future of our National Economy and Living Standards of our 150 Millions ( which would increase at the rate of more or less 3% during that time ) of People in such a small area of land ? We need to understand the destructive Power of the Dooms’ Day ( Keyamat ) and must decide accordingly without wasting a single moment if we do have any positive feeling for our Country and her People. It’s enough! No more so-called emotional discussions! We have already discussed a lot in this regard.
We must decide now, as it is a question of our survival and some interested emotional quarters must not be allowed to kill our 150 Millions of People and destroy our Country as well.
N.B. : This opinion of mine was expressed in one related Website of “ENERGY BANGLA”, while Bangladesh Govt. was preparing the “Draft Coal Policy” a few months’ back and slightly edited on Friday, October 10, 2008